Home Kit & ProductsAccessories Battle of the intercoms

Battle of the intercoms

by MotoGusto Editor

Analogue Man, John Alsopp, tunes into Cardo’s Packtalk Bold while Dom Humby connects with Interphone’s Avant.

CARDO PACKTALK BOLD

I have been described as Analogue Man, and the only major issue I had with the older unit from Cardo was that it certainly wasn’t intuitive. I often found it frustrating to operate as a result.

Dynamic Mesh Communications (DMC): The application of this is that when riders come into range with other group members, they automatically join the group. And when riders leave the range of other members, they automatically leave the group.

You can also create multiple small subgroups to communicate independently. Up to 15 riders can connect in the same group. Packtalk also offers Bluetooth so you can connect to any headset from any manufacturer.

Voice Activation: This is the hands-free operation function. Working similarly to Siri and Alexa, a simple “Hey, Cardo” can control the features of Packtalk without moving a hand from the bars; it not only offers additional safety but also eliminates a lot of frustration.

Range: On test, the range of the Packtalk was about one mile under perfect conditions but, in average conditions, it is still close to two-thirds of a mile which is very impressive compared to most systems on the market.

Packtalk also offers the ability to access FM radio, listen to music from a smartphone, share the audio you are listening to with the group, make phone calls, merge a call to the intercom and create a private chat.

The unit has up to 13 hours of talk time and can be charged while in use. Cardo units are waterproof and offer a two-year warranty.

The speakers I was using are the 40mm units from JBL. The sound quality is excellent with minimal distortion even at ‘Autobahn’ speeds. I had a few comfort issue, so I replaced them with earbuds very easily as the connector is a standard jack plug. Just to note, this issue may be isolated to the helmet used in the test, but the speakers themselves are quite thick.

Pairing and functions: The Cardo mobile app is offered on the Apple App Store and Google Play. 

The Packtalk Bold operates on a three-button system and a control wheel towards the rear of the unit. Using different gloves, I was able to feel the buttons very easily with Held’s Air n Dry. I had no issues with function. Thicker Gerbring heated gloves worked equally as well. Button function became less of an issue as I grew more familiar with the voice command function. 

You can use the voice commands to access the radio, music, adjust the volume, speed dial, redial, answer or ignore phone calls and check battery status.

The only issue that I have come across has been related to the location of my phone. As this relies on Bluetooth, the phone ideally needs to be placed in a breast pocket.

www.cardosystems.com


INTERPHONE AVANT

For most of the summer and over the winter I’ve been testing Interphone’s Avant intercom. The system boasts all their top tech, which means you get impressive specifications with a great range, connecting up to eight riders and 20 hours of battery life. 

For fitting, you get a sticky mount and a clamp mount that fits between the helmet’s outer shell and lining. You get a set of 40mm flat headphones, velcro sticky mounts with spares if you change helmets, plus velcro pads and two microphone options, one being corded for open face or front-flip helmets. You also get a sticky mount mic for full-face helmets with spare foam covers and a USB cable for charging and firmware updates. There is an app available to be used with all the current Interphone systems, including the Avant.

This unit has a one-mile range, and I can honestly say it does cover that and, in perfect conditions, it slightly exceeded that distance as well. 

Using the Avant’s buttons can take some getting used to, particularly with winter gloves on, but for me, this is the same with any new intercom unit of any brand. 

The voice commands work reasonably well, making sure you annunciate correctly will ensure the voice recognition, although sometimes this can take a couple of goes to get it to work. The Avant does come with a quick-start guide that will enable you to get set-up and connected and is well worth familiarising yourself with.

Connecting to the other units wasn’t a difficult task. However, I will say that whilst trying to connect to the Cardo PackTalk Bold it took some time to realise we needed to change the settings to Bluetooth mode from Cardo’s unique Dynamic Mesh Connection.

If you use custom moulded earplugs with 3.5mm jack, you will have to buy a separate adapter and mic as they have not yet got an adapter to fit the standard mic that comes with the kit. 

All in all, being impressed with the Intercom Avant’s range and capability, it does everything you expect. With great battery life and range, group connections (capable of up to eight riders), built-in FM radio with presets, music and sat-nav streaming simultaneously and shared with other riders (offering excellent sound quality), and no compromise on comfort, I would give the Interphone Avant a good four out of five. 

At £251.55 from www.interphone.com, it’s priced in line with other products of the same or a similar specification. 

Appreciation to Dan at Bolt Bikes in Bexhill On Sea for supplying the Interphone Avant as well as his invaluable help and support. 

www.boltbikes.co.ukwww.facebook.com/boltbikes.co.uk


CARDO PACKTALK

Battery (stand by)
168 hours

Max. connections
15 riders

Bike-to-Bike (Bluetooth)
1 miles

Bike-to-Bike (DMC)
5 miles (manufacture claim)

Bluetooth to devices
Yes

Music sharing
Yes

Voice/Music mix
Yes

Voice commands/assist
Yes

Price (expect to pay)
£255

INTERPHONE AVANT

Battery (stand by)
1000 hours

Max. connections
8 riders

Bike-to-Bike (Bluetooth)
1 miles

Bike-to-Bike (DMC)
n/a

Bluetooth to devices
Yes

Music sharing
Yes

Voice/Music mix
Yes

Voice/Music mix
Yes

Price (expect to pay)
£251.55


#cardosystems #interphone #cardo #interphoneavant #cardopacktalkbold #motogusto

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